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The National Capital Region (NCR) is a central planning region centred upon the National Capital Territory in India. It encompasses the entire NCT of Delhi and several districts surrounding it from the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The NCR and the associated National Capital Region Planning Board were created in 1985 to plan the development of the region and to evolve harmonized policies for the control of land-uses and development of infrastructure in the region. Prominent cities of NCR include Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad.

The NCR is a rural-urban region, with a population of over 46,069,000 and an urbanization level of 62.6%. As well as the cities and towns the NCR contains ecologically sensitive areas like the Aravalli ridge, forests, wildlife and bird sanctuaries. The Delhi Extended Urban Agglomeration, a part of the NCR, contributed $370 billion or roughly 4% to the Indian economy (measured in terms of GDP PPP) in 2015-16.

History

The National Capital Region (NCR) and its planning board were created under the National Capital Region Planning Board Act of 1985. That 1985 Act defined the NCR as being the whole of NCT of Delhi; the Haryana districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sonipat, Rohtak (then including Jhajjar tehsil) and the Rewari tehsil then in Mahendragarh district; and the Uttar Pradesh districts of Bulandshahr, Meerut and Ghaziabad (then including Hapur tehsil), and some part of the Rajasthan district of Alwar. The 1985 boundary of the NCR covered an area of 34,144 km2.

Gautam Budh Nagar district was created in 1997 out of the existing NCR districts of Ghaziabad and Bulandshahr. The city of Noida was the location of the new district’s headquarters. Also in 1997 Baghpat district was created from Baghpat tehsil of Meerut district.

In July 2013, NCR was expanded to include three more districts, Bhiwani, and Mahendragarh in the state of Haryana, as well as Bharatpur in the state of Rajasthan. This brought the number of districts in the NCR to 19 (outside Delhi NCT), with the total NCR area increasing 34% to 45,887 km2. Subsequently, Charkhi Dadri district was separated from Bhiwani district in 2016.

On 9 June 2015 the Government of India approved the inclusion of three more districts in NCR – Jind and Karnal in the state of Haryana and Muzaffarnagar in U.P. covering a total area of 50,566 km2. Shamli district of U.P. was added to the NCR in December 2017. There are now a total of 24 districts in the NCR (outside Delhi NCT).

On 9 January 2018 the government of Uttar Pradesh formally proposed the extension of the NCR to cover the districts Aligarh, Bijnor Hathras and Mathura. It is also pushing to have the district of Agra included in the NCR. Punjab is also forcing to have Patiala, and Mohali included in the NCR. Outskirts of Rajasthan like Bhadra are also included in the Future Extension plans.

Prior to the creation of the NCR, an area described as the Delhi Metropolitan Area (DMA) was described in the 1962 Master Plan for Delhi. That plan defined the DMA as comprising the Union Territory and the ring towns of Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Ballabhgarh, Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh and Loni, also certain rural areas, which had a population of the somewhat less than 2.1 million in 1951. The following “Master Plan for Delhi”, approved in August 1990, added Noida, Bahadurgarh and the then-proposed township of Kundli to the DMA, which consequently covered an area of 3,182 km2.

Component districts

A total of 24 districts in three neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan along with whole of the National Capital Territory constitute the National Capital Region (NCR) of India.

The areas and populations (per 2011 census, prior to the addition of Muzaffarnagar, Jind, Karnal and Shamli) of these component districts are set out below:

StateDistrictsAreaPopulation
(in thousands)
Uttar PradeshBaghpat14,72714,576
Bulandshahr
Gautam Buddh Nagar
Ghaziabad
Hapur
Meerut
Muzaffarnagar
Shamli
HaryanaBhiwani25,32711,031
Charkhi Dadri
Faridabad
Gurgaon
Jhajjar
Jind
Karnal
Mahendragarh
Nuh
Palwal
Panipat
Rewari
Rohtak
Sonipat
RajasthanAlwar13,4473,674
Bharatpur
NCT of DelhiNCT of Delhi1,48316,788
Total54,98446,069

Regional planning

The planning body for the region is the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB). It has issued two regional plans, the “Regional Plan 2001, National Capital Region” approved in 1988, and the “Regional Plan 2021, National Capital Region” approved in 2005.

Topics covered by the 2001 plan included transport, telecommunications, power and water supply, waste and sewerage, education, health, the environment, housing and the “counter magnet” areas. The 2021 plan extended these with the additional topics of social infrastructure, heritage, tourism, rural development and disaster management.

Sewage connectivity

About 46% of the National Capital Region, home to 40 to 50 million people, is not connected to sewage networks. Sewage from these areas flows into stormwater drains that empty directly into the Yamuna.

Central National Capital Region

The 2001 regional plan defined the “Delhi Metropolitan Area” (DMA) as including Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Bahadurgarh, Kundli and Sonipat. The 2021 plan renamed the area as the “Central National Capital Region” (CNCR), covering about 2,000 km2 in addition to the 1,483 km2 of NCT Delhi.

The 2021 plan estimated the 2001 population of the CNCR outside of Delhi NCT to be over 2.8 million, while Delhi NCT’s population was 13.8 million, yielding a total CNCR population of 16.6 million. As of 2016 the most recent population estimates have spanned 25.7 to 26.5 million people.

Counter magnets

The 1985 Act (§2.c and §8.f) gives the NCRCB has the ability to select districts outside of the NCR to act as counter magnets, with a view to developing them further. Counter-magnet cities are identified as those that can be developed as alternative centres of growth and attract migrants to them rather than Delhi. The criteria for selecting counter magnet towns are: that they should have their own established roots and potential of growth, and should not be centres of either religious, strategic or environmental importance. The counter magnet cities should be given priority when allocating funding for development of land, housing and infrastructure.

These cities, with their distances from the NCR, are:

In Haryana state

  • Hisar, 160 km
  • Ambala, 200 km

In Madhya Pradesh state

  • Gwalior (particularly Gwalior West), 320 km

In Punjab state

  • Patiala, 230 km

In Rajasthan state

  • Jaipur, 268 km
  • Kota, 525 km

In Uttar Pradesh state

  • Bareilly, 250 km
  • Kanpur, 470 km

In Uttarakhand

  • Dehradun, 240 km